Contributors: Becky Palapala, Kristin Westbrock, Jan Carr; June, 2012
The Battle Creek dog park can be a dangerous place for your young children. If you choose to bring your youngsters to the park, particularly toddlers, you should be aware of the inherent health and safety risks.
Not All Dogs are Socialized to Children
Even though your dog may be great with the kids not all dogs are. A running child can provoke a dog’s natural “prey drive.” Also, typical child behaviors (yelling, etc) can make a dog feel threatened, and the dog might nip or even bite, which is a dog’s way of protecting him/herself.
If a dog has never been around small children, just their small size might trigger an aggressive reaction in an otherwise gentle dog who has never been exposed to a toddler.
Health Issues to Children
Even after fecal matter is picked up there can be a residue of parasites, harmful bacteria, and pathogens in the dirt. If your child plays in the dirt, and then touches their mouth or nose, this could cause a serious health problem.
Dog park regulars are ever mindful they must watch for running dogs, who can knock them down when engaged in exuberant play, with a potential for serious injury. Needless to say, a playful dog running at full speed could cause a catastrophic injury for a small child.
How Can You Keep Your Child Safe at Battle Creek Dog Park?
- Never let children play in the dirt or grass.
- Always ask the owner before letting your child approach a strange dog.
- Keep your children quiet and close to you. No running, yelling/screaming, waving/throwing things — which might provoke a dog to chase the child.
- Never bring food treats to the park – for your child or your dog.
- Many dogs are not familiar with strollers, wagons, bikes, and the like, and may act aggressively.
- Keep moving. Dangerous interactions almost always occur when people and dogs are milling about in a common area, such as one of the two meadows at Battle Creek. Walking the trails is the best way to avoid the dangers noted above.
Why the Presence of Children Makes Dog Owners Uneasy
Even in a case of accidental or inadvertent injury, a dog’s owner is legally liable for the any injuries caused by his/her dog.
For this reason, the presence of small children may make other park-goers upset or uneasy, and they may feel it necessary to speak with you about the actions of your children. They know that inappropriate (for a dog park) behavior by children may prompt aggressive behavior from their otherwise gentle and playful dog.
Please consider carefully before bringing children to the dog park.
Be safe and bring children to the playground instead.
NOTE: While this was written specifically for the user community of the Battle Creek dog park (Maplewood MN), it is applicable to any off leash dog park setting.